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April 15, 2019

Why Cancer might be the Best Thing that Ever happened to Me.

My breast cancer wasn’t discovered by a doctor.

I was eased into that diagnosis one summer morning after a truly wonderful night’s sleep. I sat on the edge of the bed, coming to gently, feeling the breeze through the skylight and drinking in the birdsong from outside. It was a strangely perfect moment.

Exhausted after a year’s full-time caring for my elderly mother, I had given myself a break for a couple of days. As I sat there, as if from nowhere, a voice in my head said, “I can’t do any of this like this any more.” It was true, I couldn’t. The room went silent, and the energy deepened. I was held in suspension and knew something important was happening. I went to the bathroom, and in the mirror saw a perfectly round depression on my right breast. Instantly, I knew what I had.

It was as though a part of myself had prepared me in that silence for what was about to happen.

Our spirit has impeccable timing. It speaks to us quietly sometimes, but oh so clearly. I had gladly handed my life over to my mother’s care, detaching myself from home, friends, and work, and it had been very rewarding. I had no regrets. But something inside me could no longer do it. It wasn’t my rational mind, but a cry from deep within that called for fulfillment and change. Cancer rescued me at a time when I would’ve continued to give my life away.

I was lucky. More often, the diagnosis comes as a shock in a few minutes’ consultation with a hospital specialist. It feels as though everything is happening to us, our body has turned against us, doctors are telling us what happens next, our world is crashing in on us, and we feel we have little influence on our own well-being. Nevertheless, this is the time to take a breath, to connect inside, and to trust that our wisdom is doing its very best for us at all times—even with a cancer diagnosis.

Assuming I would do conventional treatment, I was surprised and relieved to learn from a friend that there were other ways to heal. I listened as she talked about addressing mind, body, and spirit—not just the body. And then I read Andreas Moritz’s book Cancer Is Not a Disease, in which he suggests cancer is the body’s last-ditch survival mechanism.

In short, a tumor is a symptom of a sick body, not the cause. So, focus attention on detoxing and nourishing the sick body, rather than fixating on the symptom. It made sense to me, and I felt a thrill of recognition—something I would come to trust increasingly when making healing decisions.

Taking some time to recover from the trauma of the diagnosis to do our own research is so important, as it may help us make an informed choice about which treatment options feel right—to give space for that internal voice to influence us and take ownership.

Each of us is unique. There is no one way to have cancer. So how we respond to it must also be individual. For me it was alternative, for others it might be conventional or integrative. Whichever treatment option we choose, there are many ways we can help ourselves.

I changed to organic, plant-based eating, often raw. I lost weight, my complexion glowed, and I had loads of energy within a short time. I rested more and added stretch and yoga to my cardio exercise routine. I detoxed with juices, colonics, and enemas—not what you talk about every day, but it helps! That’s the straightforward physical stuff.

And emotionally? What stresses us? How can we change that? What grief, sadness, rage have we pushed down that we now need to express? How can we get enough support rather than struggle alone? And spiritually? Can we take some time out to relax, walk in nature, meditate? Can we open up so our internal wisdom can speak—through words, a hunch, or a feeling? In all these ways, we help our general well-being and begin to heal and trust our inner voice. With each small action we take, we learn and grow in confidence.

It’s eight years on, and I’m not cancer-free, but there has been no spread, my general health is strong, and I have felt well the whole time. I can honestly say it’s an experience I wouldn’t have missed.

Cancer called me to a new and fuller life. In tuning into my body’s needs, I have slowed down, simplified things, and made room for the people and experiences I love most. I am re-entering life with renewed priorities, and they’re not the same as before. I am empowered, more political, and motivated to speak out. In my meditation, I practice gratitude and joy bubbles up. Increasingly, I sit in the profound power of peace.

Cancer has been a spiritual wake-up call because through it I’ve learned to listen to and trust myself more. And that’s not an outcome I could have imagined beforehand.

I like to think cancer is there to reconnect us to our inner self, our soul, our essence. It’s not an enemy to fight—rather the opposite.

Only we ourselves can hear and respond to that inner call, that personal, unique call from the depth of our being—to let go of what no longer serves us to become increasingly who we truly are.

Ann Richardson

author: Ann Richardson

Image: Author's own

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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